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Front Office Farewell!

Each week, we’ve been posting great segments titled “Front Office Friday,” where you’ve gotten the opportunity to get to know our front office staff a bit better. As you have noticed, last week we did not post a new segment. The reason being, on Friday we said farewell to one of our longest tenured front office staff members, Ryan Burke, who has accepted a position with the New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association as Membership Sales Manager.

The new position will allow Ryan to spend more time with his wife Alyssa, and nine month old son, Lucas. We are all extremely excited for Ryan and his new opportunity!


Ryan and his nine month old son, Lucas.

Ryan began with the ValleyCats as an intern in 2006, joining the full-time staff in 2007. Since that time, Ryan served as a member of the ValleyCats sales team, while also assisting with Community Relations. Growing up in Troy, Ryan’s passion towards the ValleyCats was expressed in his dealings with each of his clients and all of the ValleyCats fans, who are going to miss him just as much as we are.

We wish Ryan nothing but the best as he begins the next chapter of his life!

ValleyCats GM Rick Murphy presents Ryan with a #8 jersey for his eight years with the ValleyCats, and a framed photo of "The Joe" signed by members of the front office.

ValleyCats GM Rick Murphy presents Ryan with a #8 jersey for his eight years with the ValleyCats, and a framed photo of “The Joe” signed by members of the front office.


2014 ‘4 in 24′ Renovation Recap

Each year, our entire front office staff looks forward to the ‘4 in 24′ youth field renovations, because we understand how big of an impact it has on the local community, and on our local youth ballplayers in particular. We all have a passion for the game of baseball, which began when many of us were young ballplayers playing little league or softball, and now we have the ability to give back to today’s youth, and promote America’s national pastime.

In under 24 hours, Twin Town Little League and Spring Youth Baseball in Troy, Schenectady Little League, and Berne-Knox-Westerlo Little League all received major facelifts to their playing surface. The ValleyCats front office split up into groups of four, and along with numerous volunteers from each league, removed old sod from the infield and replaced it with brand new Kentucky bluegrass, rebuilt the homeplate and pitcher’s mound, remeasured and squared up each baseline, and put in brand new bases.

None of these renovations would have been possible without the outstanding support of BlueShield of Northeastern New York, our partners in this great community initiative. The partnership was formed in 2012 with a program called the Community Grounds Crew. The program assists local youth leagues with maintenance and upkeep of their fields throughout the spring and summer, and our mission is to provide the youth of the Capital Region with a safe place to play, learn, grow, and most importantly, have fun.

Dr. Kirk Panneton, Regional Executive and Medical Director, BlueShield of Northeastern New York (L), and Matt Callahan, Assistant General Manager, Tri-City ValleyCats.

Dr. Kirk Panneton, Regional Executive and Medical Director, BlueShield of Northeastern New York (L), and Matt Callahan, Assistant General Manager, Tri-City ValleyCats (R).

Throughout this blog post, you will see the hard work that was put in by all, and the transformation that took place at each field.

We’ll start with Berne-Knox-Westerlo Little League, and their field located on County Route 401 in Westerlo. The field was damaged by Hurricane Irene in 2011, and you can see that much of the dirt had washed away.


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So at the crack of dawn, crews began their magic! Westerlo4




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And this is the final product!





A bit closer to home, two renovations took place within two miles of each other just beyond the fences of Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.

First, our neighbors at Twin Town Little League, just across the street from “The Joe.” Here are some before photos:

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Crews at work:

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The finished product:




And just down the road, Spring Youth Baseball. Spring has been part of the Troy community since 1955, and provides house and competitive travel baseball to children up to 12 years old.Before photos:

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Work in progress:







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After a few unforeseen circumstances, the field at Spring was the last to be completed at around 10pm. But it was well worth it knowing how great a shape the field will be in for the kids! Here are some photos of the finished product:

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Last, but certainly not least, Schenectady Little League. The field that received the renovation, Maietta-Buonome Field, has been home to Schenectady Little League since 1950. There is a lot of history at this field, where the teams of the ’50’s began their run to the Little League World Series three times, winning it in 1954.

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Three members of that 1954 championship team stopped by for a formal press conference recognizing the work being done at the field, and the 60th anniversary of the ’54 Little League World Series Champions.


(L-R) Chuck Caputo, Joe Loudis, and Jackie Scirocco. Loudis holds the 1954 Little League World Series championship trophy.

Coincidentally, the photo was set up in the same way as 1954, with Loudis holding the trophy, Caputo on his right and Scirocco on his left.


Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy also stopped by to celebrate the occasion. Just one day earlier, the Mayor had spoke at the championship parade for the Union College men’s hockey team, who captured this year’s national championship.


Also in attendance, ValleyCats Vice President/GM Rick Murphy, Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, Gerard Parisi, Nikki Peters and Sara Siddons from Schenectady Little League, SouthPaw, and a few youth ballplayers!


Here’s what the field looked like prior to the renovations:

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Work begins:

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Renovation complete!






A big thank you to Youth Build Schenectady for sending a bunch of hard working volunteers, and to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que & Ruby Tuesday for feeding everybody! Also thank you to Bob Pezzano, Director of the Schenectady School District Hall of Fame, for bringing over the World Series championship trophy and photo collages of the many memories from the 50’s.

All four renovations were also supported by Admar Construction, who provided much of the necessary equipment to complete the renovations, Turface Athletics for providing the clay bricks and dirt for the mound and home plate, The Brickman Group, and the New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation, whose contributions come from past events held at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.

All said and done, it was another very successful year for the ‘4 in 24!’ It is such a great feeling to keep laying the foundation for the youth leaders of tomorrow, and we can’t wait to see all of the smiling faces come Opening Day!


Front Office Friday: Jessica Kaszeta – The Ticket Master

Today is one of the most exciting days during our offseason! As most of you know, we have partnered with BlueShield of Northeastern New York for our “4 in 24″ field renovation project. We, the ‘Cats front office, along with plenty of helpers, will renovate four youth baseball fields in the Capital District in a 24-hour time span. It’s a great way for us to continue supporting youth baseball leagues and interact with our fans who support us on a yearly basis. If you happen to be in Troy (Spring and Twin Town), Schenectady or Berne-Knox-Westerlo, you might see us out and about today getting our hands – and clothes – dirty.

One of the members of our front office you might run into is Jessica Kaszeta. Jess is our Box Office/Ticket Manager and any and all ticket orders go through her. But she does much more than that! This will be her fourth season with the ‘Cats and she’s helped overhaul our ticketing process, all while working diligently on other tasks within human resources and marketing strategies.

Jess has the tickets printed and is ready for the season to begin!

Jess, a native of Wilmington, Del., graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington, where she was cross country runner there, as well. She then pursued her master’s at Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., and graduated in 2010 with a Master of Science in Sport Management. She’s worked for the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, making Jess the only front office staff member who has experience at the highest level of professional sports.

Jess loves sports, Disney World and Kesha. You’ll see what I mean as we get to know Jess just a little bit better…

Q) If you weren’t working for the ValleyCats, what would you be doing?
A) I would hopefully be working for an NFL team, also in ticket operations or possibly working for Disney; or running marathons around the country, racking up medals!

Q) Who is your favorite MLB team?
A) Philadelphia Phillies!

Q) What is your favorite sport other than baseball and who is your favorite team in that sport?
A) Football definitely, I am a huge Minnesota Vikings fan.

Q) What are some of your hobbies?
A) I frequently run, visit Disney World, or running in Disney World.

Q) What’s your favorite genre of music?
A) I am all over the board. It depends on the day, mood, etc. But I would say I am mostly country and pop/punk/alternative…and I love Kesha!

Q) What’s your favorite meal to eat?
A) McDonald’s – Hamburger, Medium Fries, Medium Coke 

Q) What’s your favorite pet or an ideal pet?
A) Bocker – my Cockapoo

Q) What’s your favorite movie?
A) Probably 27 Dresses, or something from Disney Pixar.

Q) What’s been your favorite moment at “The Joe?”
A) My favorite moments have been during our playoff runs. It’s such an exhilarating time of the season, and the nothing beats the atmosphere of post-season baseball.

Q) If you could have one super power, what would it be?
A) Probably to be able to stretch so I can reach normal everyday things like coffee mugs and clothing without a stool.

Q) What position would you play if you played for the ValleyCats?
A) First base, channeling my softball years.

Q) What’s your favorite quote?
A) “Go the extra mile, it’s never crowded.” – Unknown

Jess and her Cockapoo Bocker recently completed the Furry Fun Run 5K in Saratoga.

Q) Who is your all-time favorite baseball player?
A) Shane Victorino

Q) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A) Jared Allen, Kesha, & Walt Disney.

Q) If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
A) Pay off all of my debt, buy a new car, and visit every NFL stadium in the country.

Thanks for the hard work you put in all year long, Jess! You are the behind the scenes person for our fans and their ticket to fun!

‘Cats preparing for renovations to four youth fields on Friday

Prep work is underway for the ValleyCats and BlueShield of Northeastern New York’s ‘4 in 24′ Field Renovation Project, which will take place this Friday. The work had originally been scheduled for Thursday, but bad weather conditions forced the renovations to be postponed until Friday.

Each field will have its old infield sod removed and replaced with brand new Kentucky bluegrass, the homeplate and pitcher’s mound will be completely redone, all of the baselines will be measured and edged to the accurate specifications, and new bases will be put in, along with other general cleanup around the ballpark.

The four leagues which will receive the renovations are Twin Town Little League and Spring Youth Baseball in Troy, Schenectady Little League, and Berne-Knox-Westerlo Little League in Westerlo. Four groups of ValleyCats staff, BlueShield of Northeastern New York staff, league and city volunteers, and members of The Brickman Group will begin work at each location at 7am. The bulk of the heavy duty renovations should be completed by early afternoon, with the finishing touches being put on in the evening.

This year marks the 75th Anniversary of Little League Baseball, the New York-Penn League, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame…so a big year for baseball in general! It also marks the 60th anniversary of the Schenectady Little League World Series championship team of 1954, which brings us to our first ‘4 in 24′ location.


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The original Schenectady Little League was formed in 1950, and Michigan Avenue is where the team called home. Fast forward over 60 years later, and this Friday, that very same field will receive much need renovations. Schenectady Little League has a long and storied history of success, participating in three Little League World Series in the 50’s, capturing the title in 1954. Members of that team include former major leaguers, Billy Connors and Jim Barbieri. Connors went on to become pitching coach for the New York Yankees, and served as Vice President of Player Personnel from 1996-2012.

Another member of that 1954 championship team, Joe Loudis, will join the ValleyCats for a formal press conference that will take place at Schenectady Little League’s Maietta-Buonome Field on Michigan Avenue this Friday at 11am. Loudis was also a standout basketball player, playing for Marshall University and the University of Albany under Doc Sauers. He went on to become a highly successful high school baseball and basketball coach, and is a member of the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame.

In our recent visit to the Maietta-Buonome Field, we discovered a few nostalgic items. These items and other memorabilia will be displayed throughout the day on Friday.

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The City of Schenectady welcomes home the Little League Champions!

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Autographed photograph to Schenectady Little League from Phil Rizzuto.

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Autographed photo from Little League founder, Carl Stotz.

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Presently, Schenectady Little League has 300+ members after merging with JC and Bellevue Little League in 2008, and Northside Little League this season. Opening Day is set for Saturday, May 3.

Below are photos of the current conditions at Maietta-Buonome Field.

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Located directly across the street from “The Joe” on Williams Road, the Twin Town #2 field is where the league hosts all of their championship games and most all-star tournaments.

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Twin Town Little League is home to 50-55 teams / 550+ players, and with the league being our neighbors, this a very exciting piece to the ‘4 in 24′ renovations! Opening Day is set for Saturday, April 26.

More current photos:

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Located just over two miles away from “The Joe” on Spring Avenue in Troy, Spring Youth Baseball has been part of the Troy community since 1955, making it one of the oldest continuously running baseball programs within Rensselaer County.

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The field plays host to the Spring Renegades travel program, whose 8 & under team won back to back Eastern NY State Championships in 2012 & 2013. They are asked to host many tournaments, including State and Mid-Atlantic Championships, and these renovations will help put the field in as best shape as possible.

Spring currently fields 30+ teams and has over 350 players. Opening Day is set for Saturday, April 26.

Current photos:

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Rounding out the “fields” of four is Berne-Knox-Westerlo Little League. A smaller league comprised of about 13 teams and 135 players, BKW Little League uses three different locations for their games, including the Westerlo field on County Route 401. This is where the ‘Cats will focus their attention, as it was severely damaged by Hurricane Irene in 2011. Because the field sits right next to a stream, it had been under 2-3 feet of water, washing away most of the infield dirt.

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When it’s all said and done, the before & after photos of this location will be remarkable! The field will be in tip-top shape for Opening Day on Sunday, April 27!

Here are some more current photos:

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All of the above renovations would not be possible without our fantastic partnership with BlueShield of Northeastern New York, who play a big role in the support of these efforts! Together, we are able to provide the youth of the Capital Region with a safe place to play, learn, grow, and most importantly, have fun.

Renovation efforts are also be aided by the support of Admar Construction, who will provide the necessary equipment to complete the renovations, The Brickman Group, and the New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation, whose contributions come from past events held at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.

We’ll be posting renovation updates on our Facebook & Twitter pages throughout the day on Friday using #4in24, so be sure to check in and see our progress!

Front Office Friday: Now stepping up to the mic, Anthony Pettograsso!

Have you seen the weather report for this weekend? The Capital District is supposed to approach and surpass the 70 degree mark for the first time in 2014! Is it a coincidence that this weekend also drops us into single-digits on the weekly countdown to Opening Night at “The Joe?”

That’s right, we’re down to nine weeks until the first pitch is thrown! We have a lot of fun community appearances coming up, including our 4 in 24 Field Renovation this coming Thursday and youth baseball and softball opening ceremonies later this month.

The warm weather is getting everyone outside and spring activities are popping up everywhere. You can expect to see more of us in the coming weeks out and about. With that said, let’s introduce you to a familiar voice.

Anthony Pettograsso has been the man behind the mic since our third season in Troy. Along with being the Public Address “Voice of the ValleyCats,” Anthony is also our Promotions Manager. He oversees our promotional team and assists with gameday production.

Say hello to Anthony Pettograsso…You’ll hear his voice all summer at “The Joe!”

A native of East Greenbush, Anthony has spent the past 12 years working in college athletics. He was an Assistant Director of Athletic Programs here at Hudson Valley Community College and has worked with UAlbany in a game operations and facilities management role. You’ve also likely seen Anthony and heard his voice if you have attended Albany Devils games.

Here’s a little bit more about the guy we call AP, who happens to be our PA guy…

Q) If you weren’t working for the ValleyCats, what would you be doing?
A) I’ve spent most of my life is some shape or form working in sports, so I’d have to believe it would be along those lines. My dream is to announce a national sporting event in a Major League stadium or arena.

Q) Who is your favorite MLB team?
A) The 27 time World Series Champion New York Yankees!

Q) What is your favorite sport other than baseball and who is your favorite team in that sport?
A) Baseball will always be my first love…but Football runs a close second. J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! They’ve gotta get over the hump one of these years…right?

Q) What are some of your hobbies?
A) I’ve been known to play a little bass guitar in my spare time and I’m slowly improving my skills with the six-string. I’m an avid boxer and I’ve also recently discovered the world of CrossFit. So, between music, the gym, and “The Joe” my schedule is pretty booked!

Q) What’s your favorite genre of music?
A) That’s the toughest question you could ask me. I’m a huge fan of all music. It really depends on the day. One day it could be a little Zac Brown Band…the next some Metallica could fit the mood. Above all else you can never go wrong will some Eddie Vedder & Pearl Jam.

Q) What’s your favorite meal to eat?
A) That depends who is cooking! When you ate as much pasta as I did growing up you learn to love anything with a nice homemade sauce, but if I had to choose one meal it would be your traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Yum.

Q) What’s your favorite pet or an ideal pet?
A) Seeing as I own 2 cats (Bruce Wayne and Isis…yes, I am a Batman nerd) I’d have to go with…cats. They sleep all day…greet me when I get home…then go back to sleep. What more do you want in a pet?

Q) What’s your favorite movie?
A) Top 5 (in no particular order):
-The Dark Knight (ok, this may be #1)
-Animal House (if you don’t know what “Double Secret Probation” is then we can’t be friends)
-Ghostbusters (Go get her Ray!)
-The Sandlot (Fireworks without Ray Charles’ American the Beautiful is just plain wrong)
-Pulp Fiction (If you haven’t seen it…stop what you are doing and go now…you’ll thank me later)

Q) What’s been your favorite moment at “The Joe?”
A) I’m one of the few people who have been lucky enough to be a part of the ValleyCats organization since the very first season. Of course the two championships (2010 & 2013) were amazing! Hosting the All-Star game in 2008 was another awesome experience…but if I had to pick one moment we need to go all the way back to the very first game in 2002. Before I stepped behind the microphone in the production room I was a part time member of the grounds crew. It was the bottom of the 8th inning on Opening Night in 2002. I believe the ‘Cats were trailing when Adam Suess crushed a Grand Slam over the Right Field fence. The stadium erupted and the ‘Cats went on to win 8-3. It was a special night that has led to countless memorable moments over the last 12 seasons!

Q) If you could have one super power, what would it be?
A) Super powers? Batman doesn’t need super powers…

Q) What position would you play if you played for the ValleyCats?
A) I was somewhat of a utility guy back in the day…but I think I like my home behind the mic in the production room!

Q) What’s your favorite quote?
A) “Do or do not. There is no try” -Yoda

Q) Who is your all-time favorite baseball player?
A) Growing up I was a huge fan of Rickey Henderson….but if we are talking “All-time” I think my answer would have to be Joe DiMaggio.

Anthony proudly holds the New York-Penn League Championship Trophy for the second time in four years!

Q) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A) Eddie Vedder, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, & Bill Ennis (my late grandfather)

Q) If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
A) Buy Wayne Enterprises and become The Batman! Or maybe just some Season Tickets to the ValleyCats…it could go either way really.

Thank you, Anthony! Glad to have you on full-time this season and looking forward to hearing you announce the TWO-TIME NYPL CHAMPION Tri-City ValleyCats!

Anthem tryouts draw record number of performers

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This past Saturday, the ValleyCats held their 4th Annual National Anthem tryouts at Crossgates Mall, with Jaime from Oldies 98-3 serving as the event emcee. 84 contestants, the most in the events four year history, performed in front of a panel of four judges.

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Each performance was ranked based upon stage presence, song accuracy, and sound quality. Out of the 84 performers, the judges were faced with the tough task of deciding on five finalists. It was extremely difficult due to the many great renditions of the anthem!

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Ultimately, the decision had to be made, and we’re excited to announce the five finalists below!






Each of the five finalists will be placed on from Monday April 14 through Friday, April 18 for a fan vote. The contestant with the most votes, will sing at “The Joe” during a premium fireworks night in front of an average of 5,000+ fans!


However, all of the finalists above will be scheduled to sing at “The Joe” in 2014…so congratulations! Plus, this year marks the 200th anniversary of the National Anthem, which makes it extra special!

Thank you to everyone who attended the tryouts, thank you to Crossgates Mall for being great hosts, and to Jaime from Oldies 98-3 for being the event emcee!! We look forward to seeing everyone again in 2015!

‘Cats Care: Community Round Up


On March 15, Pappy SouthPaw spent the morning at Crossgates Mall with his friends, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Reindeer, and the B95.5 Bee for their free Kids Club event! This year, Crossgates Mall is celebrating their 30th Anniversary!




On March 22nd, SouthPaw and Ribbie spent some time with the Albany Symphony Orchestra for their Price Chopper “Sunday Symphonies” for Families event. The hour-long concert took place at the Palace Theater, and is meant to introduce young audiences to the wonderful world of great symphonic music.


Each concert has a different theme, with this one fittingly known as “String Training,” playing off of baseball’s spring training.

String Training Concert

SouthPaw begging for candy, but wasn’t successful.

Kids Club Member Ebisa

SouthPaw & Ribbie with ValleyCats Kids Club member, Ebisa.


On March 24, more than 65 youth baseball coaches and league representatives from the Capital District attended the ValleyCats first-ever Coach the Coach Clinic at Albany PAL Gym.


The coaches packed the bleachers, brought their pens and notepads, and jotted down their observations, as coaches and players from Hudson Valley Community College and Albany High School provided their insight into the game we all love.

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Big thank you to Hudson Valley Community College hitting coach Brian Hamlin and pitching coach Brady Farkas, along with three HVCC players, for providing their knowledge of the game. Also, thanks goes out to AHS head coach Garett Baron, pitching coach Pat O’Connell and two Falcon players for giving their time and insight. We’ll have a more in-depth recap in a future ‘Cats Corner blog post, so stay tuned.


The ValleyCats mascots and Sammy Baseball brought their anti-bullying skit to Carol Hill Elementary School in Troy on March 25th, during a special assembly in the school auditorium.


Following the skit, each student recited the ValleyCats Peace Pledge, to stand up and speak out against bullying!


The students then had a chance to take pictures and give high fives to the mascots on their way to class!



Rowdy, Sammy Baseball, Ribbie, Spiedie the Chicken, and SouthPaw!

Here’s a brief video recap of the event from News 10 ABC:


The following day, SouthPaw ventured to Rensselaer Park Elementary School in Lansingburgh for their Literacy Day, visiting a few different classrooms while he was there.

Ms Wild's Class

Ms. Wild’s class

Mr Hamilton's 3rd Grade

Mr. Hamilton’s 3rd grade class

Mr Proper's 5th Grade

Mr. Proper’s 5th grade class


Lastly, America’s Food Basket opened a new grocery store, the “Ideal Food Basket,” at 100 Broadway in Menands, and SouthPaw was there for the grand opening!





Front Office Friday: Beyond the calculator with accountant Dan

We’re one week closer to Opening Day at “The Joe!” The countdown is officially 70 days, or 10 weeks if you like to think smaller numbers!

We’re back with our Front Office Friday feature and today we introduce you to our staff accountant Dan LaLonde. Dan was raised in Lake Pleasant, N.Y., and spent the 2013 summer interning in the ValleyCats ticket office. Dan came on board full-time in the accounting role after the season and has been a tremendous addition to the team.

Staff Accountant Dan LaLonde can be seen towering over the field at “The Joe” this summer!

He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Communication from SUNY Plattsburgh in 2008. After graduating, Dan moved to Boston where he worked in real estate for three years. He decided to return to school and earned his Master’s Degree in Sports Leadership from Northeastern University in 2013.

Dan spends much of his free-time playing sports, particularly basketball, which makes sense as he is the tallest person in the office at 6-foot-5. He also enjoys following his favorite Boston-area teams – although, you’ll find out just a few lines down which NFL team he roots for (Hint: not the Patriots). Though he currently lives in Green Island with his beloved roommate Chris Dawson, Dan also enjoys spending time with his friends and family back home in the Adirondacks.

Here’s a little more info on Dan … Enjoy!

Q) If you weren’t working for the ValleyCats, what would you be doing?
A) Probably something simple, like being a lawyer or a doctor.

Q) Who is your favorite MLB team?
A) The 2013 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox

Q) What is your favorite sport other than baseball and who is your favorite team in that sport?
A) Probably football and my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers

Q) What are some of your hobbies?
A) My favorite activity is playing basketball, but I also love kicking my feet up and watching movies and sports for hours on end.

Q) What’s your favorite genre of music?
A) Billy Joel should be his own genre, so I’ll say: Billy Joel

Q) What’s your favorite meal to eat?
A) Sushi in general, but if we are being specific: A spicy salmon, tuna and yellowtail roll with miso soup and a salad.

Q) What’s your favorite pet or an ideal pet?
A) I am allergic to everything that could reasonably be considered a pet except for goldfish, so: A goldfish.

Q) What’s your favorite movie?
A) Independence Day. Because, America.

Q) What’s been your favorite moment at “The Joe?”
A) Definitely not the time I struck out three times in last year’s Staff-Intern baseball game, so I’d probably go with Ryan Dineen’s walk-off homer in the 12th inning last July.

Q) If you could have one super power, what would it be?
A) I would take Mike Trout’s super powers and be him.

Q) What position would you play if you played for the ValleyCats?
A) Did I mention that I struck out three times in last year’s Staff-Intern game? I would play: Left Out

Q) What’s your favorite quote?
A) “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky & Michael Scott

Dan is a ValleyCat “Fan For Life,” and a tall one at that!

Q) Who is your all-time favorite baseball player?
A) It’s a tie between Pedro Martinez and Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn

Q) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A) Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Bill Murray

Q) If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
A) Buy an island… and a season-suite to the ValleyCats!

Thanks for all you do, Dan! If you see the big guy roaming the concourse this summer, give him a high five … just be prepared because you may have to jump!

Front Office Friday: Welcoming our newest staff member, Ben

Baseball season is officially back! Two Major League teams opened the season in Australia, with the Los Angeles Dodgers sweeping a short two-game set from the Arizona Diamondbacks last weekend. Official Opening Day for the rest of the league comes Sunday through Tuesday, dependent upon which team you like.

Our season doesn’t begin for another few months – exactly 11 weeks from today! With some new faces in the front office and some familiar ones, we decided to introduce everybody to you in our new feature called Front Office Friday. We’ll be interviewing our front office staff with some interesting questions so that you, our fans, can get to know us on a more personal level.

We’ll start off with our newest full-time employee, Ben Whitehead. Ben joins us from one of our NYPL rivals, the Lowell Spinners. He interned in Lowell last summer and connected with the ’Cats at the Minor League Baseball Promo Seminar in Louisville, Ky. We hired Ben as an Account Executive in October and he made the trek from Oklahoma City – which happens to be the site of the 2014 Promo Seminar – where he lived the past five years.

Ben is excited to be a part of the ValleyCats team and can’t wait for his first game at “The Joe!”

Ben is part of a team with us that handles group sales, advertising and marketing efforts, as well as some media, promotional and production planning. He grew up in South Carolina, pitched for a Division II school (Erskine College) and finished out his academic career at Clemson University. He’s a baseball fanatic and is a 10-game mini-plan ticket holder with the Boston Red Sox. He and his wife, Kelly, are enjoying their time in Upstate New York and excited for what this summer and the baseball season will bring.

Let’s get to know Ben a little better…

Q) If you weren’t working for the ValleyCats, what would you be doing?
A) Either working for another team within Minor League Baseball or coaching baseball somewhere. I love this game and am making it my life goal to spread my passion to all who know me.

Q) Who is your favorite MLB team?
A) The 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox!!!

Q) What is your favorite sport other than baseball and who is your favorite team in that sport?
A) Gotta be college football and my Clemson Tigers! The atmosphere on game day in Death Valley is unlike anything else!

Q) What are some of your hobbies?
A) I enjoy golfing and traveling. I usually plan my travel trips around a sporting event, so if I go somewhere, it’s usually for a game and then to visit the area. I’ve been to six of the 30 MLB parks and plan to visit all of them in the near future. I also recently started collecting mini baseball helmets, you know, the kind you get your ice cream in. So far, I have five (Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, Pawtucket Red Sox, Lowell Spinners and a Fenway 100th Anniversary helmet).

Q) What’s your favorite genre of music?
A) That’s easy – Country! Nothin’ better than a George Strait song!

Q) What’s your favorite meal to eat?
A) My wife would tell you I like to eat ribs and ice cream – which is true! – but my favorite meal is fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and mac ’n cheese.

Q) What’s your favorite pet or an ideal pet?
A) A dog. Most specifically, my five-year old puggle, Teddy Bear!

Q) What’s your favorite movie?
A) This is tough because I love sports movies. Baseball classics like Bull Durham, Major League, Angels in the Outfield and Little Big League are great. But I think my favorite sports movie is Miracle. Non-sports movie: The Shawshank Redemption.

Ben and his wife, Kelly, are happy to call Upstate New York home.

Q) What’s been your favorite moment at “The Joe?”
A) Well, since I haven’t seen a game here yet, I would say stay tuned…

Q) If you could have one super power, what would it be?
A) To be able to make unlimited ice cream!!!

Q) What position would you play if you played for the ValleyCats?
A) Pitcher. I’d like to be the closer.

Q) What song would you choose for your walk-up music?
A) “Blow me away” by Breaking Benjamin

Q) What’s your favorite quote?
A) Another tough one … I always fall back on “Hope is a good thing; maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.” –Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption

Q) Who is your all-time favorite baseball player?
A) All-time: Ted Williams. Player I’ve actually seen: Pedro Martinez.

Q) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A) Jackie Robinson, Abraham Lincoln and my wife!

Q) If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
A) I would give a good portion of the money to charities and research groups, buy my mom her dream house on the beach, probably get a few nice things for myself and my wife, travel the country (with sporting events in mind) and the world, and make sure I have a enough saved up for my future kids.

If you see Ben around the Tri-City area, stop him and say hi! He loves striking up a good baseball conversation with folks and is anticipating another great summer at the ballpark!

Mark Appel makes his 2014 debut, and more from Astros spring training

On Friday, Mark Appel made his 2014 debut following a emergency appendectomy this past January. Appel, who began his pro career with the ‘Cats this past season, was a bit rusty in his first outing back, but mentioned that it was nice to get back on the mound and face live hitters.

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Astros pitching coordinator Dyar Miller and roving pitching instructor Doug White stand behind Morgan Ensberg during Appel’s start.

Appel drew a large viewing audience:



As always, it was great to catch up with some former ‘Cats. We were able to snag this photograph of members from last year’s championship team:


Kyle Westwood, Brett Booth, Tyler White, Ronnie Mitchell, James Ramsay

We were able to catch up with 2013 ‘Cats infielder Tony Kemp and pitcher Andrew Thurman, who shared their thoughts on playing at “The Joe”, last year’s team chemistry, and the pitching staff. Kemp also shared his thoughts on winning two rings, one with Quad Cities and one with the the ValleyCats.

Thurman mentioned that he had gained a bit of muscle in the offseason, and it shows. The other day, Thurman was hitting 96mph on the radar gun!

Some other photos:

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2012 ‘Cats, Dan Gulbransen and Catfish Elkins

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‘Cats former pitching coach, Rick Aponte speaking to Astros Assistant Director of Player Development, Allen Rowin.

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Jack Mayfield

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Chan Moon

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Astros’ 4-time All-Star / Greeneville hitting coach Cesar Cedeno.

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Former major league pitcher, Dyar Miller serves as the Astros Pitching Coordinator.

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Former Astros, Adam Everett and Morgan Ensberg speak with Field Coordinator Paul Runge.

Special thanks to Dan Carubia for helping me out with the interviews and for taking all the great photos you have seen thus far!

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Dan Carubia with former ‘Cats hitting coach Joel Chimelis, a.k.a “Brooklyn.” (Notice how the picture is blurry because Dan did not take this photo?)

2013 ValleyCats receive their NYPL Championship Rings

Greetings from Houston Astros spring training camp in Florida! It was a special night for the Astros organization, and the 2013 Tri-City ValleyCats in particular, on Wednesday when the team received their New York-Penn League championship rings.

The Astros have gotten used to hosting ring ceremonies for their minor league affiliates, with Class-A Quad Cities receiving 2013 championship rings this past weekend, and Class-A Lancaster capturing the league title in 2012.

On Wednesday night, the Astros hosted a ceremony for the 2013 ‘Cats, who captured the organization’s second NYPL title in four years. It was all done under the leadership of first year skipper, veteran Ed Romero:


Romero receives his championship ring from Astros Director of Player Development, Quinton McCracken, as Field Coordinator Paul Runge looks on from the back.

McCracken,ValleyCats President Bill Gladstone, and Romero all delivered fantastic speeches to the team:


Prior to the presentation of the rings, the team, staff, coaches, and front office all enjoyed a buffet style dinner:


(From L-R) Ronnie Mitchell, Adam Nelubowich, Tony Kemp, Jake Rodriguez, Ernesto Genoves, and Chan Moon.


(From L-R) Kevin Comer, Randall Fant, Kyle Westwood, Chris Cotton, Tyler Brunnemann, and Adrian Houser.


(From L-R) Troy Scribner, Jack Mayfield, Brian Holberton, Chris Munnelly, Andrew Thurman, Krishawn Holley.


Tony Kemp and Chan Moon filling their plates!


Following dinner, a highlight video from the 2013 season was played and the room shared many laughs.  Then the entire coaching staff and team was called up one by one to receive their rings.


Pat Christensen


Ernesto Genoves


Evan Grills


Jon Kemmer


Gonzalo Sanudo


Chan Moon


2013 ValleyCats field staff: athletic trainer Michael Rendon, pitching coach Doug White, manager Ed Romero, and hitting coach Russ Steinhorn.

Following the ceremony, we were able to catch up with skipper Ed Romero, infielder Conrad Gregor, and pitcher Kyle Westwood, to reflect back on the 2013 season.

Here’s a group photo of the ValleyCats championship squad:


2013 New York-Penn League champions!

Here are a few more photos from your former ‘Cats at Astros spring training camp:



Austin Wates


Tony Kemp


Kyle Westwood, Kevin Comer, Chris Cotton


Tyler White


Pitchers looking on during minor league spring training action


Jason Castro


Tony Kemp with his former Vanderbilt teammate, and current Nationals prospect Taylor Hill.


M.P. Cokinos


Chris Cotton


Jesse Wierzbicki


Jake Rodriguez


Astros minor league instructor, and former major leaguer Vince Coleman


Tyler Heineman


Some of the Astros Latino players seek shade.


Former ‘Cat Jorge DeLeon, who made his Major League debut last season with the Astros!

‘Cats Care: Community Roundup

Education has always been a big part of the ‘Cats Care campaign, and on March 3rd, schools across the nation celebrated Read Across America Day. SouthPaw spent that morning reading to students at Carroll Hill Elementary School. SouthPaw also took some time to read to students at Gardner Dickinson Elementary and Milton Terrace Elementary.

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SouthPaw with his friends from Milton Terrace Elementary School!


At Menands School, SouthPaw attended their Cultural Fair, as their gym was transformed into a global arena with family run tables representing different countries and cultures, from around the world and within the United States.

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Menands School has posted more photos online, and they are available by clicking here.


SouthPaw also attended Gardner Dickinson’s Jump Rope for Heart event on February 28th, which is an exciting fundraising event where kids learn jump rope skills while raising money for the American Heart Association. The program also incorporates lesson plans and resources to help teach students about living heart healthy lifestyles.

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The school was able to raise over $5,800 for the American Heart Association, and 47 people were trained in Hands-Only CPR.


An exciting event each year for SouthPaw and the ValleyCats staff, is the Hannaford Kidz Expo at the Empire State Plaza in Albany. There were tons of activities for kids and their parents, including live performances, and information on everything from summer camps, health care, sports clubs, photographers, dance studios, amusement parks & more.

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Keep checking our Facebook page for updates on upcoming community appearances, and photos from each event!

Also check out what the ValleyCats have planned for their first ever Education Day at “The Joe” on June 17!

What a Recovery!

If you live in the Capital Region and are a sports fan (or maybe not even a sports fan), chances are you have been to a Recovery Sports Grill, which have seven different locations locally.

The chain of restaurants began in 2007, with the “Recovery Room” next to Albany Medical Center. Since that time, a lot has changed including technology. BBL Hospitality, who owns the chain, decided that the Albany location was due for an upgrade. They remodeled the entire restaurant/bar, and added tons of brand new TV’s, including 90″ flat screens.

The trademark for each and every restaurant, is the local flavor they add as decor. You won’t find a spot on the wall that doesn’t include a photo or piece of memorabilia that reflects Capital Region sports.

Below are some great photos of the brand new look. Check out the ValleyCats themed wall and menu!

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“The Joe” is featured as the background image for the burgers page!

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Be sure to stop by and check out the new and improved Recovery Room in Albany, which is located at 62 New Scotland Avenue right next to Albany Medical Center. And tell them SouthPaw sent you!

Recovery Sports Grill also has locations in Troy, Colonie, Guilderland, Malta, Rotterdam, Queensbury and Amsterdam. They routinely hold trivia nights, and have great drink specials. For more information, visit their website at, or check out their Facebook page at

‘Cats introduce Education Day at “The Joe!”

As part of our initiative to “Create Fans for Life,” we’ve decided to devote a home game during the upcoming season to the youth of the Capital Region. We’ll host Education Day at “The Joe” on Tuesday, June 17, with the baseball game that morning serving as the background to an all-encompassing educational field trip opportunity for local schools.

We’ve created a curriculum that includes character development and anti-bullying facets, as well as more traditional educational subject matter as it relates to the game of baseball. The character development aspect will build on the ValleyCats’ existing “Strike Out Bullying” program that features interactive in-school assemblies, a uniquely created “Peace Pledge” and a custom activity book.

The program will be rounded out with fun activities to educate students in areas such as mathematics, history and geography, while demonstrating their real world applications. This will include items on the geometry and dimensions of the field, player statistics and mileage charts for travel between the various cities throughout the New York-Penn League, along with historical ties to baseball in the Capital Region.

Here is some additional information on this event:

  • This curriculum and the various corresponding activities will be available for teachers to use in the classroom via download on the ValleyCats website ( beginning in March. It will also be incorporated into the game day entertainment and experience at the ballpark on June 17.
  • Tickets will be $10.00 per student which includes a seat for the game and lunch. The lunch menu will comply with the USDA Nutrition Standards for School Meals.

We are thrilled to provide this opportunity for students throughout the region to learn more in-depth information about baseball and its ties to the Capital Region. Our hope is that we can pack the stadium with students and teachers, and provide them a once-in-a-lifetime educational experience.

The ValleyCats front office, along with loveable mascot SouthPaw and his friends, will create an atmosphere of inclusion, education and fun.

The ValleyCats are currently seeking community-minded corporate partners to help offset some of the costs for schools which may need assistance with transportation or other field trip costs. To learn more about Education Day at “The Joe,” contact the ValleyCats front office at 629-2287. As we join forces with local school districts, this unique opportunity figures to be a staple for years to come!

Helping Hands

Last Friday, members of our front office took some time to cook and serve lunch for members of the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless in Albany.

The Interfaith Partnership is such a vital part of our local community, as they are dedicated to addressing the needs of the homeless and low-income community.

They provide great services to encourage self-sufficiency, empowerment, and stability. These include housing, health and wellness, and youth programs just to name a few.

Lunch was absolutely delicious! Our menu included baked ziti and meatballs, salad, steamed green beans, and cookies for desert!

Here are a few photos:

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Ryan and Dianna prepping the food

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Jess cooking the green beans

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Michelle, Chris and Jess serving

For more information on the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless, visit


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